The Ladies Room
Russian Fashion Influencers, Fake News and Instagram

How an email from the "Kiev Fashion Resistance" helped a fashion reporter discover a new fake news phenomenon

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When Refinery29's Senior Features Writer, Connie Wang received an email from the Kiev Fashion Resistance back in February she was... intrigued.
""I didn't know it was a fake news campaign originally. I thought it was real news!"
During Fashion Week, multiple people emailed Connie a PDF all about Russian fashion influencer Miroslava Duma. The claims made in the PDF were alarming: that she was a racist, a homophobe, and a money launderer.
The thing was, Duma had previously been accused of making racist and homophobic statements. She infamously dropped the N-word in an Instagram Story. And there was video documentation of her publicly criticizing the blurring of gender in fashion. But the claim about money laundering? That seemed a little far fetched.
Connie took up the case. "Once I started looking into it in the report, it felt like a ghost version of how an actual reporter would write an article," she says. "Some of these stats were real., but the conclusion would be something where I couldn't connect the dots."
She then reached out to investigative reporters well-versed in fake news (yes, they exist), who quickly recognized the style of the email she had received, along with the email address itself. Still, they were confused. They "had never seen fake news tied with fashion and pop culture before."
Fake News from or about an influencer on social media presents a uniquely deceptive and dangerous problem, Connie warns. "It's really easy to spread fake news," she says. "And it's really hard to fact check something. It doesn't feel like there's a big consequence to sharing fake news, and that's a problem."
Check out my conversation with Connie in the latest Ladies Room above. For more conversations, be sure to follow Strong Opinions Loosely Held where there's a new Ladies Room every week.
Russian Fashion Influencers, Fake News, InstagramReleased on June 19, 2018

R29 Original Series